Toughest primary races ahead

Published 9:12pm Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Whether you realize it or not the 2014 election is upon us. The call to arms began in June, when campaign fundraising could officially begin.

Under Alabama law, candidates can begin raising money exactly one year prior to the elections. That has been interpreted to mean one year prior to the primaries.

The primary next year is in early June. That is proper and fitting since we are now a one party state. Winning the Republican Primary next June in any statewide race is tantamount to election in the Heart of Dixie. The November election will be a formality or coronation.

Gov. Robert Bentley will more than likely be coronated next year for his second term as governor of the great state of Alabama. Bentley has not been getting rich during his first term as chief executive. As he promised when he ran for election, he has not taken one red cent in salary as governor. He has made the same promise if reelected to a second four-year term.

His exact promise is that he will not accept a salary until the state’s unemployment rate drops below 5.2 percent. Alabama’s current unemployment rate is 6.9 percent. That is down substantially from when Bentley first won election in 2010. Bentley will tout this reduction of the unemployment rate in his campaign if he has one.

At this time Bentley only has token opposition. His reelection numbers are very strong. His favorability is extremely high. He has sky-high numbers when it comes to trustworthiness. Folks trust him and like him.

If Bentley were going to field any serious opposition they would have to have made some noise by now. Indeed they would probably need to be raising money.

All the top Republican challengers in the state have already declared unequivocally they will not challenge Bentley. Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey and Attorney General Luther Strange have both announced that they plan to run for reelection in their respective posts.

Two possible candidates have faded away. Former two-year college chancellor, Bradley Byrne, who ran second to Bentley in the 2010 Republican primary is running for Congress. Greenville businessman, Tim James, who ran third, has said he is not running at this point.

One major player who has opted out of the 2014 race is Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard. Some Goat Hill observers say he would lose power moving from his position as Czar of the House of Representatives.

It is amazing the power and control that Hubbard has amassed as Speaker. He dictates the flow of legislation like a dictator. The House is run like a well-trained army. Hubbard is the general. He barks his orders and his Republican soldiers fall in line.

Hubbard has garnered the throne by being in charge of the money. He has corralled the lobbyists to give the money to him or his PACs and he doles it out to his friends and loyal subjects.

It is suggested the toughest legislative races may well be in the Republican primaries. It is expected Hubbard may try to purge his trenches of dissidents who have not toed the line.

The partisan lines are drawn to pretty much keep the GOP in control of both the House and Senate. For the foreseeable future, the GOP should continue to hold a 2-to-1 super majority in both chambers. Approximately one third of the legislative seats will belong to the minority Democratic Party. African Americans hold most of these minority seats.

This super majority Republican Legislature has emasculated the only Democratic friendly organization, the Alabama Education Association, during this quadrennium. They made a calculated Machiavellian move to kill the AEA and stampeded and stomped on the teachers union like a herd of elephants.

They have virtually driven daggers into the heart and soul of this one vaunted union. In three short years they rolled back 30 years of union accomplishments under the leadership of the King of Goat Hill, Dr. Paul Hubbert.

It will be interesting to see whether the AEA will roll over and play dead or fight back with a vengeance. Teachers have to be upset. They actually make less money than they did four years ago. They have been forced to pay more for medical and retirement benefits and have received an insulting 2 percent increase in pay, which does not offset their increased contributions.

The legislative races are where the action will be in next year’s elections. It looks like smooth sailing for the Governor. We will see.

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